12 January - 20 June 2016

Diet experience may alter taste preferences

11 Sept 13

A study published in Nature Neuroscience by Montell et al. has investigated how diet experience can alter taste preferences.  For example people living in the Far East have different taste preferences to people from the West.  However when people move from one culture to another individuals typically learn to accept local foods.  The scientists used the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster in an animal model to examine the mechanism as to how animals learn to like foods they didn’t like before.   Using the food additive camphor, which is the main flavouring ingredient in many desserts in Asia, including ice cream, they found that fruit flies learnt to consume camphor-containing food if they were fed the additive-containing foods long-term.  However when they used toxic tastants such as quinine or strychnine, the results were not the same.   The more camphor the flies were fed, the more they wanted. The study states "for humans this might translate to mean that repeated exposure to disliked food over a period of weeks or months may result in the eventual acceptance of that food." The scientists report that the mechanism involves changes in the animal peripheral gustatory receptor neurons, which contain sensilla, hairlike structures.  Long term exposure to camphor of 2 days (a fruit lives for about 2 months) caused a reduction in the response by the Transient Receptor Potential Like channel (TRPL), a directly camphor-activated channel that brings ions such as calcium into the cell.   Dislike for camphor was reduced by a mechanism which involved the degradation on TRPL protein by an enzyme called E3 ubiquitin.  This enzyme targets specific protein substrates for degradation.  A decline in TRPL also reduced synaptic connections however the scientists report that these were not sufficient to cause taste adaptation. They suggest that that mechanism in flies could be calcium regulated as there is an influx of calcium into the cells when other pathways are suppressed.  The researchers were able to reverse the acceptability of camphor-containing foods after the flies were returned to a long term camphor-free diet.  Montell et al conclude by stating: “Our work raised the possibility that reversible changes in taste receptor cells, as a result of long term exposure to a specific diet, could contribute to a similar type of phenomenon in humans. “

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry